NASA InSight Lander Now Half Way to Mars

NASA InSIght rendering 1 photo
Photo: NASA
Of the 300 million miles it has to cover before reaching the deserted sands of Mars, NASA’s InSight lander has already traveled half, the space agency said earlier this week.
Shooting through space at speeds of 6,200 miles per hour (10,000 km/h), the InSight mission is expected to land on Mars on November 26.

Since launch and until that moment, the spacecraft has been and will be monitored by the space agency almost continuously, including with the help of a pair of mini-satellites from the CubeSat family.

Since its launch from Earth in May, InSight’s trajectory has been corrected a few times. The first and the biggest such trajectory correction maneuvers took place on May 22 and required the thrusters to be fired for about 40 seconds.

The use of the thrusters had an impact on velocity measured at 3.8 meters per second (8.5 mph). Until the time it lands, NASA said an additional five or six such maneuvers might need to be performed.

Although there is only half the distance left to cover, NASA will not land the spacecraft on Mars until November 26 because it will require additional time for preparation for entry, descent, landing and surface operation.

InSight is an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. The lander is meant to study Mars' deep interior using seismology and other geophysical measurements.

The instrument platform was built back in 2010 and was initially planned to travel to Mars in 2016. Because of a failure to one of the instruments, the launch was canceled.

As for the two satellites accompanying the mission, they will be used to track and follow the lander through space, with their ultimate task being their recording of the spacecraft’s entry in the Martian atmosphere.

The survival of the two CubeSats in deep space might also mean similar satellites could be sent towards other destinations as well, or maybe accompanying other missions.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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